VICTORVILLE – Victor Valley Transit Authority (VVTA) joined the app-based ridesharing market, last month, with its pilot program for Micro-Link, an on-demand shared transit service. The pilot service will conclude in six months to determine the need for future expansion projects.
In recent years, public transit agencies have rolled out microtransit services that employ vans that serve specific areas within a city rather than sticking to a fixed route bus line.
VVTA’s Micro-Link has designated three “zones” – South Victorville, North Victorville and Hesperia. Riders within those zones can schedule a pick up and be dropped off at designated locations within the same zone for a $4 fare.
“Typically, when you think about transit, you think about frequency, headways. The routes are pretty much scheduled, you show up at a bus stop or transit station, it will take you to a certain destination,” said UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies Researcher Alimurtaza Kothawala to In Transition Magazine. “Microtransit changes the landscape a bit. It merges demand-responsiveness (with) … decid(ing) where you want to go, as long as it’s within a service area.”
Metropolitans across the country – Los Angeles County Metro Micro, MARTA’s Reach in the Atlanta region, Albany’s FLEX service in New York, and Via Jersey City in New Jersey are also experimenting with public ridesharing transit.
Microtransit services in low-density rural areas, like the High Desert, provide options for transportation underserved by conventional transportation – fixed-route bus lines or hard to reach areas on hills.
Unlike Uber or Lyft, VVTA’s Micro-Link does not use surge pricing that charges more during busier times.
VVTA also says their Micro-Link drivers are professionals that have undergone background checks, safety training and drug and alcohol checks unlike independent operators at other ridesharing services. Third-party contractor Keolis North America provides the microtransit services.
Each zone operates Monday through Friday from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. For riders that may need to travel outside of their zone, the $4 fare includes a day pass on a VVTA fixed-route bus.